Santiago and Ripple have been best friends for their entire lives, so when she needs a fake fiancé, he’s more than happy to help her out. What neither of them expect is for a fake relationship to spark real feelings with the magic of the holidays…
Where/when is your book set? The fictional small town of Misty Falls, on an island in WA state.
Who is your main character? Santiago & Ripple
Why is Christmas so important to the story or you? The whole town comes to life with the Christmas spirit, and it is during the magical season that the two main characters come to realize that love is what they both really need.
I am so thrilled to bring to you 25 days of Christmas Books. All new releases for 2022 and by authors you will recognize. Most are Cozy Mysteries, but there are a few Romance and Paranormal as well. There are even a few anthologies. Each of these authors has answered a few questions for you about their holiday writing and, of course, you find the links to their books.
I hope you will find plenty of stories to stock up on and read-they are so good you can read any time, and re-read next year too.
In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs and being partial to eating, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist—which taught her much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter—she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in northern Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
Lord of the FleasWhile staying with her best friend in Williston, Florida, service dog trainer Marcia Banks wants only to spoil her godchildren and train her newest dog’s veteran owner, a vendor at the local flea market. But when the flea market’s owner is killed, her client becomes a prime suspect. She believes he’s innocent, but soon finds that the flea market is hiding dangerous secrets.
To Kill a Labrador; Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) has an unusual name and a rather abnormal vocation, training service dogs for military veterans with PTSD, and an even more abnormal avocation—amateur sleuth (Note: no dogs die in this series).
Now let’s ask a few questions…
Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year?
This story, Lord of the Fleas, is about a disable military veteran who is a vendor at a flea market. The story was inspired by a friend who lives near a flea market. We love to go there in the autumn to find unusual Christmas presents.
Is your book part of a series? Who is the protagonist and where is it set?
This book is part of a series set in central Florida. The protagonist is a service dog trainer who trains dogs for military veterans, to help with both psychological and physical issues.
Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop?
The season is more the backdrop for this story, but there are several books in the series that focus on specific holidays—Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and July 4th, plus I have a new book coming out in a few months that focuses on New Year’s Eve and Day. I love writing holiday books!
This story happens to conclude on Thanksgiving, with a family feast!
How much research do you do to create your story?
I’ve had to research a lot of things for this series, including dog training techniques and the tasks that service dogs do, plus military ranks, protocol, etc. and different kinds of injuries. It’s been a fun series to write and I’ve learned a lot.
Meet my fellow Sister In Crime member! I’m thrilled to introduce you to Ileana’s newest book and series, The Wisterious Witch; Wisterious Bay Cozy Paranormal Mystery. Ileana was born in Cuba, but grew up in New York City’s Washington Heights. (This is also the setting for her Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mystery series). Ileana loves to travel, read, and listen to music. You can find all her books on Amazon. You can find out more about Ileana on these sites:
Now lets find out more about the Wisterious Witch….
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)? That’s a good question Victoria. My main character, Alicia Whimblebright, is a combination of Bewitch and Hocus Pocus. She’s wholesome, with a hint of wacky sprinkled on making her a fun-loving character.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? The story is set in the fictitious town of Wisterious Bay during the month of October. The streets are adorned with skeleton garlands, orange twinkling lights, and Halloween props.
Who is your protagonist? My protagonist is Alicia Whimblebright. She’s in her mid-thirties, of Cuban descent, excited about her new ideas for the coming year, and overall satisfied with her life. That is until precisely at seven-thirty on the third of October.
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? Alicia grew up in a family of witches. Her mother was a witch as were her Tias.
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? My paranormal cozy mystery has elements of my Cuban culture which are unique. For the most part, my novels are somewhat bilingual as they include words both in English and Spanish throughout the dialogue. In addition, you’ll notice the quality of my main character’s voice, her tone, and, of course, several of her idioms.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? For all of my stories, I conduct some form of research. For A Wisterious Witch, I searched used bookstores for books, as well as the internet for anything related to Wiccan beliefs, spells, and beliefs. I even spoke to someone who believes in all things paranormal.
Also, in this story, there is some fantasy as Alicia creates magical candles that are activated when lit by a witch or warlock. That obviously doesn’t happen in real life, although how interesting it would be if it did?
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? Sometimes the crimes portrayed in paranormal cozy mysteries are different, especially if the murder weapon is a spell or a hex delivered by a witch or warlock. However, in my novel, the murder weapon is something you’d find in any household.
One more thing to keep in mind. A Wisterious Witch, not only has a wacky and fun-loving protagonist, but there’s also Felix, the talking skeleton, and Augustus, the banished reaper. They only come to life at night and boy, are they a hoot.
Joann lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. A lover of small towns, and nature, her cozy mysteries are the reflection of this. Her series, Pepperville Stories, Piney Falls Mysteries, Emory Bing Mysteries and the Charming Mysteries are written in the 1900s, and one series even has a dual timeline! You can find out more about her books from Joann’s website, purchase her books on Amazon and follow her on Facebook.
What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy? I’ve always had an interest in history. What fascinates me the most is the unknown: What was an ordinary day like in 1900? Did they have the same sense of humor? Did teenagers have attitudes? So often, what’s recorded in history is more about putting their best foot forward, or giving very perfunctory information. I decided to write a story from the viewpoint of a woman, new to this country, who is actually smarter than her husband.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? My story is a dual timeline. The first timeline occurs between 1900 and 1922. The second one is present day. They both take place in the same region, the Pacific Northwest, or specifically, the western Oregon coast.
Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen. In the early time frame, Fiona Scheddy is a farm girl who is swept off her feet by an American man. She has grandiose ideas about the country she’ll be entering and instead, finds herself alone in New York City. She is fearless and curious about this new life. That’s both what drives her and what damages her.
The modern day protagonist, Lanie Anders, embodies the modern business woman. She is successful in her career and driven, but also very lonely. She has purposely never had a serious relationship because she worries it will get in the way of her career. The two women are both alike in that they are driven and damaged by their ambition.
What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies? My stories are a product of a life lived in small towns. I spent most of my life in the middle of the country (USA) where we had to drive two hours to the closest Starbucks. People are odd, but there’s no avoiding them because you don’t have options. Your dentist who talks about his collection of goat’s feet is the same guy who coaches your kid’s soccer team. Even if you changed dentists (to the other one in town) it’s likely you would find yourself in the same situation. Those are the stories are fertile ground for my mysteries.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? For Welcome to Piney Falls, I did about six months of research. I was planning to do more, but that’s when everything shut down. I wasn’t even able to access library materials online, so that’s where I left it. For the third book in that series that takes place in 1940, I did about five months of research. I would love to spend more time, but I need to keep the books coming!
Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? It really depends on the author. A lot of murders (in real life as well as fictional) take place because emotions take the place of rational thought. That’s something that hasn’t changed through time. That being said, cyber crime has really taken off in cozies. I think the motives at issue are still the same, though.
I love the idea of a dual timeline, and can’t wait to start reading Joann’s books. Be sure to add them to your list as well.
The authors of the USA Today Bestselling mystery anthology Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders have a really fun project in the works!
We’re releasing special edition print copies (both hardback and paperback) of our stories! They’ll be published in a set of ten books, with “flippy-floppy” editions containing two stories in each, for a total of twenty novellas.
Do you remember the books back when we were kids where they had front covers on both sides, and you’d turn them over to read the second story? They’re like that! Perfect for reading on your own or gifting to mystery-loving friends.
How can you get your hands on these? They’ll be special editions, only available only through Kickstarter. You can “back” the project (pledge your purchase) when the Kickstarter launches, and then if we fund the project your books will ship out in time for Christmas! What a great gift idea for the Cozy Mystery Lover!!
I hope you’ll support our exciting project. Please share with someone you think might also enjoy these limited edition books.
I’m thrilled to start the interviews for the twenty-one authors involved with the Midsummer Cozy Mystery Anthology, Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders, with Erin Scoggins. Erin writes the laugh-out-loud series The Wedding Crashers Mysteries. A southerner herself, you can easily get a feel for the small-town-south; including the food, families and killer plots. Be sure to follow Erin on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
‘Til Death Do Us Part, by Erin Scoggins
It’s a beach party twenty years in the making. But when a kidnapper delivers a ransom note instead of a love letter on the morning of their anniversary, can this overworked attorney find her missing husband before the tide goes out the life she had planned?
Now let’s find out a bit about Erin…
Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick? Scoots Gillespie is an attorney who has spent the last few decades climbing the ladder at her North Carolina law firm, and that has often meant putting her job above her husband. When he is kidnapped on the morning of their twentieth anniversary, and she must choose between finding her husband and going after a once-in-a-lifetime promotion, she is forced to clarify what really matters to her. But a lifetime of secrets makes that decision harder than she ever imagined.
What comes first, the plot or characters? My characters are Southern smart alecks who always like to have a say in their own stories, so they come first. You never want to discount the opinion of a woman who knows a thousand different ways to hide your body.
Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What’s in yours? I used to envision the perfect beach day as only needing chilled mimosas and a good book or two. Then I had kids. So now I pack the entire car with everything one of them might need, whether that’s a basket of curated snacks or a full first aid kit, because I will have a headache and one of my darling littles will undoubtedly need stitches or a visit to the ER by the time the day is over.
If it was just me, though? Earplugs, sweet potato chips, and the highest SPF sunscreen they make, because I get freckles by just walking to the mailbox.Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why? Oh, yes. I adore Beverlee Wells-Bartholomew, because she is the vibrant, colorful friend we all need. Whether it’s showing up with tacos when you’re having a bad night or pushing you to get out of your comfort zone by buying you chain-mail lingerie, Beverlee is the one you want by your side throughout life’s ups and downs. She has a lot of sass, questionable morals, and knows more than one way to revenge-poison an ex. That kind of loyalty is hard to find.
Before the release, you are going to want to pre order your copy! Not only will you get it at the lowest price of 99 cents, but you will also get a fun addition that the authors put together for our readers; a recipe book of great summer salads.
We are also doing something extra special for our potential readers; we’ve put together an exciting package with over 30 prizes to win. Ereaders, gift cards, signed copies of books, ebooks, audio books, the list goes on. And you can check out the list AND sign up to win the Mysteries, Midsummer Sun & Murder anthology prize pack by clicking on the box below.
Karen and I started working together on my very first book, 9 years ago, and it has been a joy to work with her from day one. I found Karen on Fiverr.com under the name of fuzzym and fell in love with her colorful, eye catching covers. It didn’t take long for the two of us to get a feeling of how we work and we soon had the first cover ready for the Citrus Beach Series. Karen listened to what I wanted to accomplish, gently steered me in the right direction when I was total wrong and before long we had more covers ready to show off my mysteries. Now, when I need a new cover, I simple give her a few guides and let her work her magic. And every time, I never have a moment of hesitation or worry if the cover is going to work.
Let’s find out a bit more about Karen and her work process...
What 3 questions do you ask a writer before you start their cover?
It’s different for each author because some come to me with a complete idea of what they want, and others come with a blank slate. I generally ask about the size first because that informs the shape of the images I am creating. I would also ask if they had a style they love. It’s smart to come to me with a few covers that caught your eye. That helps me get an idea of your aesthetic. The third thing I ask about is the genre. Mystery has a different look from Kidlit or ChickLit. I will match that style, so audiences recognize the genre from the cover.
I see you also write children’s books. How did you get started?
I like the whimsy of books for children. The themes are wholesome and fun. They lend themselves to more fantastical settings and the characters can be animals which I love. I write a little bit of everything, but children’s books are where you get to have fun.
What is your favorite genre to create covers for?
Cozy Mystery. The covers always tell a story. I like to add a zillion little details to the covers and they are a creative collaboration with the author. The colors tend to be brighter than a mystery novel and the art is slightly more sophisticated than the kidlit covers. They have a nice balance to them.
What trends do you see with covers, especially in the Cozy Mystery Genre?
There are a few trends. The covers either have a domestic scene like a bakery or a boutique with a clue to the murder on the cover, or an elegant landscape or your main character off to one side with a scene from the book playing out behind them. I’m not going to bore you with talk about fonts, but they tend to have the author’s name centered on the bottom. The Titles vary but as a rule tend to use a brush stroke style with a sans serif underneath it. White is popular for titles and a heavy drop shadow doesn’t hurt. Cats or pets on the cover almost as if the pet were the protagonist is hot right now.
What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of a good cover?
Clean, legible fonts are the backbone of any cover. The cover picture elements should overlap to create depth. If everything has a space around it, the image appears flat. Composition for me normally follows the idea of the golden triangle. That’s a fancy way of saying I move things around until it feels right. It should also follow the rules of the genre it is in. Mystery novels do not look like romance covers for a reason and that reason is marketing.
Describe your working space
I live in a one-bedroom, so my living room is my office. I have two workspaces. There’s an HP-all-in-one on a corner desk when I am feeling professional but for the most part I sit on my sofa, put my laptop on a pillow with a picture of a cheetah on it and work while I listen to podcasts. Sitting crisscross applesauce is the key to good art.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend working on a cover?
When I begin work on a cover, it goes in stages. So, the first day it maybe an hour or two for some concept sketches. I will draw out three to four thumbnails for new clients. Once the client had a layout they like, I can spend 3-6 hours on a cover backdrop. I will check in periodically with the client to make sure we are on the same page. Each project is its own beast but covers can take anywhere from 3 hours to 18 hours depending on construction, complexity of the image, and changes. I would say on average about 6 hours.
I hope this gave you some insight about cover designs. I can’t wait to see what Karen (fuzzym) comes up next for me!